Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/ mine, Democratic Republic of Congo – update

19th January 2024 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/ mine, Democratic Republic of Congo – update

Photo by: Ivanhoe Mines

Name of the Project
Kipushi zinc/copper/silver/ mine.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Project Owner/s
Kipushi Corporation (KICO), a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines and DRC State-owned mining company Gécamines.

Project Description
Kipushi will be the world’s highest-grade major zinc mine, with average grade of 36.4% zinc over the first five years.

The 2022 feasibility study focuses on the mining of Kipushi’s zinc-rich Big Zinc and Southern Zinc zones.

The feasibility study envisages the restart of underground mining operations, and the construction of a new concentrator facility on surface with a processing capacity of 800 000 t/y of ore producing on average 240 000 t/y of zinc contained in concentrate over a 14-year mine life.

The project will benefit from significant existing surface and underground infrastructure to allow for substantially lower capital costs than comparable development projects.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
At a long-term zinc price of $1.20/lb, the project has an after-tax net present value, at an 8% real discount rate, of $941-million and an after-tax real internal rate of return of 40.9%, with a payback of 2.3 years.

Capital Expenditure
Preproduction capital costs have been estimated at $382-million.

Planned Start/End Date
The redevelopment of Kipushi is based on a two-year construction timeline. Ivanhoe expects the project to be completed by the third quarter of 2024.

Latest Developments
Ivanhoe Mines has signed a new joint venture (JV) agreement with State-owned mining company Gécamines to restart the high-grade Kipushi zinc/copper/silver mine.

The agreement involves Gécamines increasing its stake in Kiphusi Corporation, currently a 100%-owned subsidiary of Ivanhoe, to 38% and further to 43% in 2027.

Once a minimum of the current proven and probable reserves and up to 12-million tonnes have been mined and processed, an additional 37% of the share capital and voting rights in the JV will be transferred to Gécamines, after which Gécamines will hold 80%.

The company has started with surface construction activities and underground development on site, with first production expected in the second quarter.

Ivanhoe co-chairperson Robert Friedland has said that the signing of the new JV heralds the beginning of a new era of production for the Kipushi mine, which will resume operations 100 years after first opening in 1924 as the world’s richest copper mine.

Ivanhoe confirms that a new supervisory board and executive committee are being established.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
OreWin; MSA; SRK Consulting (South Africa); and MDM (Technical) Africa, a division of Wood (technical report).

Contact Details for Project Information
Ivanhoe Mines (North America), tel +1 604 688 6630/+27 11 088 4300 (South Africa) or email